Traditional Sports Media Outlets Dead?

JoeSportsFanSenior Analyst IJuly 22, 2009

ROME - MAY 26:  Journalists watch the screens during the Barcelona training session prior to UEFA Champions League Final versus Manchester United at the Stadio Olimpico on May 26, 2009 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Most of you who read JoeSportsFan know that I like to write about extremely stupid stuff—especially my 5 Ms of mustaches, midgets, monkey, mullets and Mr. T.

Today, I bring you a more thoughtful post than I would normally offer. This one about sports media—both old and new.

I’ll start with when I woke up Wednesday morning after a night fraught with 12 PBRs. I came downstairs, walked outside, and picked up this thing the young people today call a “newspaper.”

It was kind of an ashy white with black lettering—some in bold typeface and some not. It had color photos of people who looked like they were unhappy or sweating a lot while they consumed vast quantities of pork products. Interesting, novel.

Like the rest of you, I’m a sports fan and I found this section called “SPORTS.”

I read this black typeface that was in bold and had a photo of a joyless guy. His name was Bryan Burwell, and his headline read, “Steelers QB latest to land on hot seat.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, I didn’t hear anything about this on any of the ESPN properties like .com, ESPN Radio, or Sports Center. What up with Ben Roethlisberger?”

So I read Happy Burwell’s piece and it suggested Big Ben may have learned nothing from the Kobe Bryant rape case.

As you probably know by now, he has a new civil suit filed against him by a young lady who claims he took a few too many liberties. Not good business at all for anyone—especially a Super Bowl winning QB.

I found it odd that this was the first time I had heard about it—this from someone who spends a fair amount of time on ESPN and sports blogs —hell, I write for this one.

But for the most part blogs and sports media in general has been inundated covering Michael Vick’s prison release (no more Dickies!) and the Erin Andrews naked hotel video debacle.

Deadspin at least had something posted at 5:40 PM on Tuesday, July 21, as the story was breaking.

I went to Twitter—the true source for immediacy—where I found these Tweets.

 

 

Beau_DEE_Ful: OMG SMFH @ BEN ROETHLISBERGER DID HE LEARN NOTHING FROM KOBE BRYANT??? NO MESSING WITH HOTEL EMPLOYEES SHEESH!! a few seconds ago
Lucia027: Will need a QB for my fantasy football team (”Christina’s Convicts”). Looks like Ben Roethlisberger will do nicely. #fb 1 minute ago
aschlos18: Ben Roethlisberger Assault: According to a lawsuit, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is being accused o.. http://bit.ly/55oob 3 minutes ago
giftsandadvice: Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and Pro Athletes Should Take Legal Sexual Precautions before sex http://tinyurl.com/nhjt6r 4 minutes ago
Steelers__News: Ben Roethlisberger / NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that he “will look into” the allegations #NFL #PIT 5 minutes ago

Clearly, it was making the rounds. But not hearing anything about this trainwreck from ESPN, which has essentially cornered the marketing on sports media? 

Surprising, but then I saw ProFootballTalk.com reporting that ESPN made an editorial decision to not report on it.

OK, they piled on Kobe too much an figured they’d take a more measured approach here and wait it out a bit.

So I started thinking about the implications as well as my reactions as a sports news consumer.

  • I rely far too much on ESPN and actually use one of Chris Berman’s socks as a washcloth.
  • Most stories today—whether it be sports, news, or trends on retired Muppets—are beginning outside the traditional media forum.
  • Traditional media, however, is still the validating point that reignites any story.
  • ESPN has far too much power and should be destroyed with the exception of Scott Van Pelt’s wardrobe.

Most important, especially for those who are media doomsday forecasters: Traditional media is not dead.

Are blogs and social media taking off in terms of value to, say, companies who wish to use them to reach target audiences?

Of course. 

Just check out some of the stats in this piece from MediaPost.com such as the fact that companies with the highest levels of social media activity on average increased revenues by 18 percent in the last 12 months, while the least active saw sales drop 6 percent over that period.

The numbers don’t lie.

But traditional media is not dead. It’s just part of a broader spectrum of choices than we have ever had before…like if a few competitors popped up against Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb.

Carry on.


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